Internationally known jazz musician Wayne Bergeron will join 42 Kiski Area High School students onstage during the Kiski Jazz Festival on March 17.
To say that the entire Kiski music family is excited would be an understatement.
“Wayne Bergeron is one of the most well-known and in-demand lead-trumpet players alive today,” says Shawn Pityk, Kiski’s director of bands. “We are blessed to have a strong tradition in jazz at Kiski Area and cannot wait for this festival.”
The lineup includes Kiski Area Jazz Ensembles A and B and the Balcony Big Band, a professional 16-member ensemble.
Bergeron’s credits include more than 350 TV and motion picture soundtracks, such as “The Incredibles,” “Jersey Boys,” “Despicable Me” and “Minions.”
Bergeron’s list of recording credits is impressive and includes sessions with Ray Charles, Quincy Jones, Gordon Goodwin, Arturo Sandoval, Pat Williams, Beyonce, Barbra Streisand, Michael Buble, Barry Manilow and Natalie Cole.
Kiski senior Baylee Summerhill plays bass and can’t wait for the jazz concert — and the exposure to a world-class musician.
“This is such a big deal for our program,” Summerhill says. “I can’t wait to perform with someone I’ve heard playing on so many soundtracks to movies that I watched as a kid and even now.”
“I always look forward to working with younger players,” says Bergeron from his home in Van Nuys, Calif. “Nothing makes me prouder than hearing a student tell me that I made a difference in their life.”
Bergeron will perform with the Balcony Big Band and Kiski Area Jazz Ensemble A, playing “a few of the tunes from my recordings, as well as joining the band on one of their tunes called ‘Blues du Jour,’ ” he says.
His career began with mastering the trumpet in seventh grade.
“I had a bit of natural ability on the trumpet when I first started. From that moment on, I knew this is what I wanted to do with my life,” Bergeron says. “I feel music kept me out of trouble when I was young. I grew up in a fairly tough neighborhood. Being focused on practicing and honing my skills kept me from going down the wrong path.”
Seating is first come, first served in the school auditorium that seats about 750.
“This is going to be an outstanding event,” Pityk says. “Not only is it going to be amazing for our students to get to hear and work with such a world-class musician, but for him to be performing with the students is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Dillon Shuster, a junior, is excited to work onstage with Bergeron.
“He’s a great role model considering I play the trumpet, and I can’t wait to work with him,” Shuster says.
The students are enthusiastically rehearsing.
“I’m so excited to get to play with Wayne,” says Casey Maher, a senior who plays alto saxophone. “Our band has been playing really hard to get ready.”
Joyce Hanz is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.